World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Karl Gützlaff

Karl Gützlaff
Born (1803-07-08)8 July 1803
Pyritz, Pomerania, Prussia
Died 9 August 1851(1851-08-09) (aged 48)
British Hong Kong
Resting place Hong Kong Cemetery
Occupation Missionary, translator
Title Reverend
Religion Protestant

Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff[1] (8 July 1803 – 9 August 1851), anglicised as Charles Gutzlaff, was a German missionary to the Far East, notable as one of the first Protestant missionaries in Bangkok, Thailand (1828) and in Korea (1832). He wrote widely read books, such as Journal of Three Voyages along the Coast of China in 1831, 1832 and 1833, with notices of Siam, Corea, and the Loo-Choo Islands (1834). He served as interpreter for British diplomatic missions during the First Opium War. Gutzlaff was one of the first Protestant missionaries in China to wear Chinese clothing. Gutzlaff Street in Hong Kong was named after him.


  • Life 1
    • Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China 1.1
  • Works 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Born at Pyritz (present-day Pyrzyce), Pomerania, he was apprenticed to a saddler in Stettin, but was able to secure admission to Pädagogium in Halle, and associated himself with the Janike Institute in Berlin.

The Netherlands Missionary Society sent him to Java in 1826, where he learned Chinese. Gutzlaff left the society in 1828, and went first to Singapore, then to Bangkok with Jacob Tomlin of the London Missionary Society, where he worked on a translation of the Bible into Thai. He made a brief trip to Singapore in December 1829, where he married a single English missionary Maria Newell. The two returned to Bangkok in February 1830 where they worked on a dictionary of Cambodian and Lao. Before the work was completed, however, Maria died in childbirth, leaving a considerable inheritance. Gutzlaff married again, this time to Mary Wanstall, in 1834. The second Mrs. Gutzlaff ran a school and a home for the blind in Macau. She died in 1849 in Singapore, and was buried there. Gutzlaff's third marriage was to Dorothy Gabriel in England in 1850.

Gützlaff in Fujian costume

In Macau, and later in Hong Kong, Gutzlaff worked on a Chinese translation of the Bible, published a Chinese-language magazine, Eastern Western Monthly Magazine, and wrote Chinese-language books on practical subjects. In 1834 he published Journal of Three Voyages along the Coast of China in 1831, 1832 and 1833. Along the way he handed out tracts which had been prepared by another pioneer missionary to China, Robert Morrison.

In 1840, a group of four people (High Wen-li, Traditional Chinese: 深文理) correct and faithful to the original.

In the 1830s Gutzlaff was persuaded by William Jardine of Jardine, Matheson & Co. to interpret for their ship captains during coastal smuggling of opium, with the assurance that this would allow him to gather more converts. Gutzlaff later assisted in negotiations during the First Opium War of 1839–42. In response to the Chinese government's unwillingness to allow foreigners into the interior, he founded a school for "native missionaries" in 1844 and trained nearly fifty Chinese during its first four years. Unfortunately, Gutzlaff's ideas outran his administrative ability. He wound up being victimized by his own native missionaries. They reported back to him glowing accounts of conversions and New Testaments sold. While some of Gutzlaff's native missionaries were genuine converts, others were opium addicts who never traveled to the places they claimed. Eager for easy money, they simply made up conversion reports and took the New Testaments which Gutzlaff provided and sold them back to the printer who resold them to Gutzlaff.

Shattered by the exposure of this fraud, Gutzlaff died in Hong Kong in 1851. However, the Chinese Evangelization Society which he formed lived on to send out Hudson Taylor who founded the successful China Inland Mission. Taylor called Gutzlaff the grandfather of the China Inland Mission.

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China

On 29 November 1834, Gützlaff became a member of the newly formed "Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in China". The committee members represented a wide section of the business and missionary community in Canton: James Matheson (Chairman), David Olyphant, William Wetmore, James Innes, Thomas Fox, Elijah Coleman Bridgman, and John Robert Morrison. John Francis Davis, at that time chief superintendent of British trade in China, was made an honorary member.[2]


Gützlaff's grave at Hong Kong Cemetery
  • Karl Friedrich A. Gützlaff (1840). Journal of Three Voyages Along the Coast of China, in 1831, 1832 and 1833 With Notices of Siam, Corea, and the Loo-Choo Islands. 
  • A Sketch of Chinese History, Ancient and Modern (London, 1834, German version in 1847), Volume One, Volume Two
  • Karl Friedrich A. Gützlaff (1838). China Opened; or, A Display of the Topography, History ... etc. of the Chinese Empire, revised by A. Reed.  Volume One
  • China Opened; Or, A Display of the Topography, History, Customs, Manners, Arts, Manufactures, Commerce, Literature, Religion, Jurisprudence, etc. of the Chinese Empire. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1838.  Volume Two
  • Life of Taou-Kwang, Late Emperor of China. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1852. 


  1. ^ He gave himself the Chinese name, 郭士立 (pinyin: Guō Shìlì), but later on 郭實腊 (Simplified Chinese: 郭实腊, pinyin: Guō Shílà) became his official Chinese name.
  2. ^ Elijah Coleman Bridgman; Samuel Wells Williams (1835). The Chinese Repository. Maruzen Kabushiki Kaisha. p. 381. 


  • Lutz, Jessie Gregory. Opening China: Karl F.A. Gützlaff and Sino-Western Relations, 1827-1852. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2008. ISBN 080283180X.
  • Herman Schlyter, Der China-Missionar Karl Gützlaff und seine Heimatbasis: Studien über das Interesse des Abendlandes an der Mission des China-Pioniers Karl Gützlaff und über seinen Einsatz als Missionserwecker (Lund: LiberLäromedel/Gleerup, 1976) ISBN 91-40-04373-8
  • Winfried Scharlau (ed.), "Gützlaffs Bericht über drei Reisen in den Seeprovinzen Chinas 1831-1833" (Hamburg: Abera Verlag, 1997) ISBN 3-934376-13-4
  • Thoralf Klein/Reinhard Zöllner (eds.), "Karl Gützlaff (1803-1851) und das Christentum in Ostasien: Ein Missionar zwischen den Kulturen" (Nettetal: Institut Monumenta Serica, Sankt Augustin/Steyler Verlag, 2005) ISBN 3-8050-0520-2
  • Waley, Arthur (1968). The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes. Stanford University Press.  

Further reading


External links

  • > at SingaporeJournal of Three VoyagesScanned version of the <
  • University of Hong Kong library page about book and Gutzlaff
  • "Gutzlaff, Karl Friedrich August," Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.